The family of Harry Dunn have received a boost after the Northamptonshire Police chief said the force would take part in their legal claim contesting the diplomatic immunity granted to his alleged killer.
The PA news agency understands the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) are set to claim they did not advise police that Anne Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity.
Chief Constable Nick Adderley told the PA news agency he supported a request for his force to join the judicial review of the immunity that was granted to the suspect in the 19-year-old’s road crash death in August last year.
He added that the force would not seek to retrieve its costs from the family even if the legal claim was unsuccessful – despite the FCO looking to “seek costs”.
The family’s spokesman Radd Seiger previously said the case could cost the family upwards of £50,000 if it is appealed by the FCO and ends up in the Supreme Court.
Mr Seiger welcomed the police chief’s move on Tuesday, saying: “They rightly recognise major public interest issues are at stake.”
In documents seen by PA, the FCO have claimed that “the Secretary of State did not purport to advise the police as to the legal position in relation to Mrs Sacoolas’ immunity.”
In their challenge of the judicial review launched by the Dunn family, the FCO have also said that: “It was and is for the police, as the independent criminal investigator, to make their own decisions on matters affecting their investigation.”
PA understands the FCO allege that any statement provided to the Northamptonshire force would have been an “informal expression of opinion”.
I’m v grateful to @NorthantsPolice’s legal team and @NorthantsChief for agreeing to join in the Judicial Review proceedings against @foreignoffice and to not seek costs against the parents. They rightly recognise major public interest issues r at stake. Ball now in FCO’s court!
— Radd Seiger (@RaddSeiger) January 14, 2020
Mr Dunn died after his motorbike crashed into a car outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27 last year.
Mrs Sacoolas, 42, the wife of a US intelligence official, claimed diplomatic immunity after the collision and was able to return to her home country, sparking an international controversy.
The claim against the FCO issued on behalf of Mr Dunn’s parents – Mr Dunn and Charlotte Charles – alleged the granting of diplomatic immunity to Mrs Sacoolas was “wrong in law”.
They requested the Foreign Office withdraw advice provided to Northamptonshire Police surrounding the granting of diplomatic immunity to the suspect.
The family have said they are concerned Mr Raab was “pressured by the United States to interpret the law in a way which allowed her to escape justice”, a claim the FCO said was “entirely without foundation”.
The Home Office submitted an extradition request for Mrs Sacoolas on Friday after she was charged with causing the 19-year-old’s death by dangerous driving.
The US State Department has said the extradition request for Mrs Sacoolas is highly inappropriate and would be an abuse.
Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “right that we made the appeal for extradition” but also told BBC Breakfast that sending Mrs Sacoolas back to face justice was “not what (the US) do”.
Reacting to Mr Johnson’s comments from Denver in the US, the spokesman for the Dunn family, Radd Seiger, told PA: “I do not know what is in the Prime Minister’s mind in making those comments because the parents and I have not yet had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him but we expect to do so within the next few days.
“Certainly, if he is basing those comments on what is currently emanating from Washington he may well be right.
“However, the extradition request has now been delivered and therefore the legal process has commenced – Mr Johnson’s officials have been working extremely hard over the last few months to prepare a thorough and diligent case.”